Booklist For Speedy Recovery (aka “I Want To Be James Patterson”)

I stopped reading fiction for so many years. From 2003 to 2009 I read nothing but autobiographies and other non-fiction books, a majority of them Christian books.

But last year I decided I want to start writing fiction. In fact I haven’t written anything in the creative writing realm for a long, long time and the only chances I get are for church drama (and they make me so happy).

So I started reading again, and have found pulp fiction such a wonderful escapade.

I have discovered (drumroll) James Patterson!

His name is one of those that you will see in every airport in the world (yes even Terengganu). I’d never touched a Patterson because I had sampled Patricia Cornwell (a real life forensic scientist) and found her writing clumsy even though her plots are quite gripping. The last pulp author I read was Thomas Harris (Silence Of The Lambs) whom I loved until Hannibal happened (what the…).

I bought Patterson’s 5th Horseman by accident. It was going for $10 at SPC when I went to get some gas, and I found some books for the kids at the same time at discounted prices on a rack, so I picked it up. I thought it might be entertaining toilet reading, and started the book at 8pm that night after dinner.

I found myself awake at 1am finishing it that very night.

Uh-oh, Threez had found herself a new drug: James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series! Within the next 2 months I finished the first eight in the series, and I’m waiting for the pocket-size version of 9th Judgment (so my Pattersons will look neater on my bookshelf. Sorry, I’m anal that way.) It’s the latest so I can only find the hardcover and the large format so far.

The Women’s Murder Club centres around San Franciscan homicide detective Lindsay Boxer and her three best friends: medical examiner Claire Washburn, crime reporter Cindy Thomas and lawyer Yuki Castellano. The “club” was unofficially formed to get the women get together on their girls’ nights out, drink margaritas, eat chimichangas and talk about Lindsay’s cases and villains, which span psychotic rich high school kids who murder their parents and a psychotic novelist that frames his wife to frame him for a series of couple murders, just so he can create the ultimate “twist in the tale”.

Patterson’s style is fast-moving and fun. He doesn’t write long chapters — they are 4, 5 pages long and there are 80, 90 of them in a book. There are many crime/thriller writers out there — Patricia Cornwell (I only read 1 book of hers), Michael Connolly (the protagonist is far too serious), Robert Ludlum (the print is too small) — but Patterson’s easy style and clever plots (even the predictable ones are told with such a rollicking sense of fun) are irresistible. I’m happy that he is pulp fiction’s most prolific money earners, with something like three or four books out a year (or more). Plus, he’s appeared on Castle playing himself talking about writing crime novels.

I totally want to be James Patterson. That is my secret aim in life. Now not so secret anymore. I want to write books like I pee. I’m sure my soul has been merrily cured by the worlds he has created, and the characters who I can imagine meeting and sharing a beer with, if I happened to head down to that restaurant the same night as the Women’s Murder Club.

I’ve asked myself why I get such a kick out of reading the Women’s Murder Club, and when the answer came, I startled myself: the series is like Nancy Drew for grown-ups girls!

Since I have run out of pocket-sized Women’s Murder Clubs, I have started reading some of Patterson’s other books. He is also the author of made-into-movies titles like Kissed The Girls and Along Came A Spider.

I just finished Run For Your Life, a hilarious yet exciting novel based on an Irish New York cop Michael Bennett, who is a widow with 10 adopted children! Secondary characters include a young Irish nanny who sacrificially takes care of his brood, and his grandfather Seamus who is now a Catholic priest with a penchant for whiskey. Michael Bennett (with his funny kids) is such an appealing character there’s talk it’s going to be a TV series soon by the creators of CSI.

Like I said, I want to be James Patterson.

Highly Recommended:

1. 1st To Die (Women’s Murder Club). Someone’s going around killing brides and grooms on their wedding or honeymoon. Spooky!

2. 2nd Chance (WMC). A killer is going around murdering family members of police officers. Lindsay finds herself a target!

3. 3rd Degree (WMC). Terrorists strike! A group of new radicals are committing acts of terrorism, including blowing up a house with a family inside.

3. 4th of July (WMC). Lindsay is accused of police brutality when she shoots a pair of gun-toting teens. She is forced to take a break, but finds herself investigating the murders of couples who have mysterious holes drilled through their walls.

4. 7th Heaven (WMC). The body of a sick young man disappears, the scion of a rich and famous family. A young prostitute comes forward to admit her role in his “murder”. Major twist in the tale!

5. Run For Your Life (Michael Bennett). A well-dressed man is going around New York killing people who work in high-end establishments. Amidst a vomiting virus that’s turning his household of 10 kids upside down, Detective Michael Bennett, a trained hostage negotiator and police detective, tracks down this mysterious Gucci’d up killer.

You can get your Pattersons at Borders, but if you’re lazy or just prefer online shopping, there’s always Kinokuniya’s Bookweb. Or of course, Amazon.